10th Friday of Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 4: 7 – 15; Ps 116; Matthew 5: 27 – 32
To the Corinthians St Paul shared an extremely personal and sacred experience; he speaks in the third person – actually he speaks of himself: “I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago…a man who was snatched up to Paradise to hear words which cannot be uttered.” He says this, not as a boast, rather in humility as a reality, as an extraordinary gift of God to him.
In today’s reading Paul shares something else, also reality, about himself: “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.” At some time in his life Paul had experienced a moment of ecstasy and now Paul professes his human frailty, his mortality – of suffering affliction, of imperfection, of a persistent thorn in his side that the Lord refuses to take away. In all this Paul does not despair and lives his vocation in trust or as he puts it so often “in Christ”.
For Paul “To live is Christ!” And the Christ, the Lord Jesus, truly God and truly Man – in His sacred humanity can say also, “I hold this treasure in an earthen vessel” because He entered fully into human life – “like us in all thing but sin”. Jesus knew affliction, resentment, betrayal – He knew temptation, struggle and through these “He learned obedience from what He suffered”. Jesus is at once Son of God and Earthen Vessel – fully Almighty and fully Human – totally beyond us and totally with us.
We can say that His mercy for us, His compassion for us as we journey in our own earthen vessels of fragility, of imperfection, of mortality is at once, the gift of His Divine Nature and the fruit of His Human nature – one having neither beginning nor end and the other born in time and having become timeless.
Pope Benedict XVI commenting on Jesus’ baptism by John wrote, “Jesus stood in line with sinful humanity” – this was much more than an external gesture. In this Jesus revealed His solidarity with all of us. This is the Jesus Christ we profess to be our Lord – God from all eternity and Man born of the Virgin Mary, The Earthen Vessel. The degree to which this truth affects our lives, guides us in the way we live is the degree to which we really believe it.